Sandy beach
Hike-in Required
Snorkeling / SCUBA
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Pirate's Cove is currently a beach in transition. Lying off the beaten path, the beach has no amenities, and is used by locals who prefer to keep the rural feel to it. The beach has traditionally been clothing optional, free of lifeguards (or any other improvements or amenities for that matter), and requires a hike down a steep trail to reach. 

The results have meant a beach that takes on more a lawless feel. While safety isn't really an issue, the area does show signs of partying, graffiti, and long term encampments at the parking area. 

The beach itself is a long sandy shore. Other trails beginning at the parking area head up into the surrounding hills and can be combined with the long beach to create a loop path.

Visitors can veer off from the trail at the marker and turn right to visit Smuggler's Cave, which is actually a tunnel through the rocks with views of the open ocean.

Recently, San Luis Obispo County purchased the beach, and as of 2021 will begin plans of leveling and paving the parking lot. As of right now, the Parks Department and planners are saying they would like to work with users to come up with a collaborative vision of what direction to take with incorporating the beach into the county parks system.

There are currently no amenities at the beach or parking area. The parking area of rough and rutted dirt, those without high clearance vehicles may want to park on the shoulder of the road right before the parking lot.


Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



More rural feeling.


Steep hike to access.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Big vistas


Nearby Adventures

Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California
Santa Maria Valley + Santa Lucia/La Panza Mountains, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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